A Defining Moment
(This was written months ago and reposted from one of my other blogs. It's the point that I came to after all the pain of 2016. And if this is where all that pain led me to, then I don't regret it. You'll see what I mean.)
Have you ever been smacked upside the head by the heaviest questions you could ever ask yourself, knowing that the answers would define your future and determine the direction of your faith thereafter? ...
During the worst summer I ever had - the summer of 2016 (the year that broke me, written about here and here) - I was in such despair that I could barely get out of bed. I was afraid of everything - afraid of having another panic attack, afraid that moving around would make me throw up, afraid that I would lose my mind and end up in the hospital, afraid that I wouldn't get help from the hospital and that I would succumb to crippling anxiety, afraid of talking to others, afraid of not talking it out, etc.
I was so broken and felt so hopeless. While I knew that I wouldn't hurt myself, that suicide wasn't an option, I also knew that I was at the point people get to when they decide to kill themselves. I remember standing outside one day in the garden, wrestling with the suffocating pain and the feeling of having no way out and the thought that I can't keep going on like this, that it was breaking me too bad, when a realization hit me ... This is the point people get to when they kill themselves.
I knew that I was at the point people are at when they decide that it's better to end it all than to face one more day of suffocating pain. I completely understand now why people do it, why they feel it's their only option to escape the pain, why they feel a huge sense of relief when they finally make the decision to end their life, and how they can calmly carry out their plan.
As I said, I knew that it wasn't an option for me (yet deep down I kinda wished it was), but if I didn't have the family I do or if one more huge trial hit me or if I didn't have the Lord to help me moment by moment ... I don't know if I would have had the strength to hang on anymore. I was so tired that I didn't want to hang on anymore. Had one more little trial or heartbreak hit me at that time, ending it all might have been a very inviting possibility.
I understand now how someone can do that. And every time that I hear of someone who committed suicide, my heart tears wide open. (I'm still sad over Robin Williams. Such a tragedy.) I know what that despair, that hopelessness, that loneliness feels like. Had I allowed myself to see suicide as a real option, it could have been me. (While I wouldn't let myself daydream about suicide, I did daydream about meteorites falling out of the sky and crashing into our house or being on a plane that goes down or falling off of a skyscraper, closing my eyes, and enjoying every foot of the fall ... up until that last one. And I prayed all the time that Jesus would come back again. I still do. All the time. I want that to be the way I go out!)
There was a time during that summer when I wanted to give up my faith. I really wanted to be able to be done with it, to not believe in God anymore. I actually kinda envied those who didn't have faith, who were "in charge" of their lives, not waiting on some other Being to handle things for them, to fix things that were broken, taking His sweet time. It hurt me deeply to be waiting on Someone who didn't seem to be coming through for me, who didn't seem to be listening, who allowed such pain.
And I remember working in the garden one day, listening to their music on my MP3 player as a gentle breeze rustled the cucumber leaves. The song "My Jesus, I Love Thee" was on.
And as I went about picking vegetables and cleaning up dead leaves, a line from that song hit me so hard that I had to stop.
"I love Thee (Jesus) in life. I will love Thee in death.".
That line cut through all my proccupied thoughts, all the fuzziness in my head. And I stopped ... and stood there ... and asked myself a question I had never considered before. The question to end all questions.
"If my life ended this summer (not that I wanted to die, just that I didn't want to be here on earth anymore), I would die as a Christian, as a follower of Jesus, claiming that He was the only way to heaven. All other options would be closed to me, the chance to change my mind. Is the Christian faith really the one I want to die in? Is Jesus really the one I want to die for, that I want to commit my soul to, that I would be willing to cling to in my last breath?"
As I stood there alone that day among the vegetables and the gentle breeze, I let the weight of that question press down on me. The all-important magnitude of it. The "no turning back once this question is answered" heaviness. The sense of "And now we find out what's really in your soul, the trueness of your faith."
Is Jesus really the one I want to cling to in my last breath?
I imagined dying, using my last breath to say "I still believe in Jesus". I imagined waking up in eternity, finding out if I had it wrong or right.
Did I truly believe in Jesus with every every fiber of my being? Enough to say, "I still believe," even when everything felt like it was going wrong? Could I say, "I will love Thee in death"? In death! Was I willing to die in this faith?
I paused for a moment, thought of everything that led me to this point. Of all the things I had been through with God. All the things I had heard and read and learned. Of the Word that I have explored for years and years.
Did it all make sense? Did it hold together? Could I truly plant my feet on it? My soul? My eternity? Would it hold me up?
"Yes!!! Absolutely, yes!!!"
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Jesus is the only option for me. The Way. The Truth. And the Life.
He is the answer to all our questions. He is our salvation, the only way to eternal life. (Do you know of any other God who loves His creation enough to die for their sins? Just so they can spend eternity with Him in paradise?)
Everything else in life may break down around us, but Jesus will never let us down. He is the only one worth clinging to, all the way till the end.
Before that moment in the garden, I always found it uncomfortable to say stuff like "I love Jesus." It sounded mushy, goofy, strange. I mean, yes, I did love Jesus, but it was weird, trying to sound sincere saying you "love" someone you never actually met. It was a bit too awkward for me. Overly emotional. Gooey sentimentality.
But after that moment ... after that moment of deeply contemplating if I believed in Him enough to die for Him, of thinking about all He's done for me and what He truly means to me ... I can now boldly, sincerely, with all my heart, say "I truly, deeply love Jesus."
And I know now that with my last breath, whenever that day comes, I can confidently say, "I believe! And I will love Jesus with all my heart, to the very end!"
I know I chose rightly!
(See also the post "The Most Important Question." It's pretty much the underlying question I was asking myself. Who do you say He is?)